Kinesthetic intelligence is the name given to one of several types of intelligence described by Howard Gardner. If you have a strong preference for learning by using your body, kinesthetic intelligence is probably one of your strengths. Some people call this being a kinesthetic learner or tactile learner. Bodily kinesthetic intelligence might be only one of the ways that you like to learn new things, because many people are strong in more than one type of intelligence. There are a variety of bodily kinesthetic intelligence activities that can improve your learning, both in the classroom and in your personal life.

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Someone who has a preference for learning new things through bodily kinesthetic intelligence usually has certain qualities. Many kinesthetic learners are athletes who are involved in team or individual sports. This type of person often enjoys activities that involve working with the hands, such as painting, cooking, repairing mechanical devices, or building things. If you prefer learning through body kinesthetic intelligence you might have an unusual awareness of tastes, textures, or other sensory information in the world around you. Kinesthetic learners may be able to use the Student Success System to learn different study skills and test preparation techniques.

A kinesthetic learner might find it frustrating to learn new information by listening to a lecture, reading a book, or watching someone else demonstrate an activity. People with high kinesthetic intelligence usually learn best when they can use their bodies to perform an action. Sometimes people with bodily kinesthetic intelligence remember facts better if they engage in sensory activities to reinforce the facts. Many people with body kinesthetic intelligence might like to work through problems while engaged in sports, walking, or some other physical activity rather than talking or writing about the problem.

One clue to your learning style can be the words you use to talk about a problem. In contrast to people who say things like “I see what you mean” who might be visual learners, a person with high body kinesthetic intelligence will usually speak in phrases that describe physical sensations. For example, you might say that you’d like to “get a grip” on the problem, that you “have a good feeling” about it, or that you’ve got “a gut feeling” about how it will turn out.

If you are a kinesthetic learner, there are a number of bodily kinesthetic intelligence activities that can help you learn more effectively. For example, when you are reading a chapter about a historical event, use your imagination to experience what a person in that event would have felt, seen, and heard at the time. To learn a series of abstract facts or formulas, use a physical object you can manipulate, such as flash cards. When you need to listen to a lecture, you can use small physical motions to help you concentrate, such as doodling on paper or quietly tapping your fingers. Role playing or acting out a scene are also good ways to involve your body in learning. You could even reinforce material you’ve studied by demonstrating it to someone else, perhaps by creating a dance or mime that explains the material. During study time, you may find that playing a certain type of music, sitting in a comfortable chair, or frequently getting up to stretch will aid your concentration and help you retain important information later on. Most people have the greatest success in learning when they combine different types of bodily kinesthetic intelligence activities.

The following resources are a good starting point for learning more about kinesthetic intelligence: